Representation matters in asynchronous, scripted online learning environments

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In the United States, more schools are requiring teachers to use scripted curriculum. This is a teaching method that outlines exactly what educators should say and do at each step of the lesson.

Using a scripted curriculum may seem like a good solution for schools that are struggling to improve student achievement or are facing a shortage of qualified, experienced teachers. However, educators have fewer opportunities to incorporate their own teaching experience and students’ specific needs into their lessons.

Assistant Professor Jennifer Darling-Aduana and Educational Technology doctoral student Christine Hemingway co-authored the following study. Teacher’s university grades Learn how to use scripted curriculum in an online, asynchronous setting, allowing students to complete courses at their own pace.

Rather than studying lesson content, Darling-Aduana and Hemingway focused on how teachers’ racial/ethnic identities and “discretionary behavior” affected student performance, or how teachers’ professional I was interested in small ways that I could use my judgment and my teaching skills in the classroom. Deliver materials based on a script. This includes things like the language and grammar used, or whether the teacher added questions for students to reflect on.

Researchers transcribed 40 online scripted lessons from one school district’s high school English language arts and U.S. history classes. Teachers prerecorded their lessons, and students completed their work primarily in the school computer lab during class. This study included classes taught by seven Black teachers, one Hispanic teacher, and 11 White teachers. Seventy percent of the students were Black, 20% were Hispanic, and 80% of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

Darling Aduana and Hemingway found that teachers spent 91% of each lesson delivering content and had little opportunity to incorporate their own discretionary actions into the scripted curriculum.

Approximately 40% of the lessons were delivered almost as directed, with teachers making little or no changes to the script provided. Black teachers were 43% more likely to follow this method than white teachers, a finding consistent with previous research in this area.

White teachers were more likely to exercise limited discretion. The researchers found that, as members of the dominant racial/ethnic group, White teachers are “not bound by the same dissonant expectations and perceptions of conformity and belonging as teachers of other racial/ethnic groups.” As a result, I am working with a greater sense of security and freedom.” minority group. ”

However, their efforts to do so, such as sharing opinions and using words of encouragement, can be seen as surface-level attempts to build connections with students, and may be viewed as “supportive” attempts. Students were less likely to demonstrate intensive treatment, a prerequisite for “relationships with teachers that are associated with high expectations and achievement,” the authors write.

Researchers looked at student scores on end-of-class quizzes and found that teachers’ racial identity did not have a statistically significant effect on student performance, but teacher discretionary behavior did. It turned out that it was having an effect.

End-of-class quiz scores were 2% lower when teachers used surface-level friendly strategies for instruction, and 2% higher when teachers used “personalized strategies.” This includes greeting students at the beginning of the lesson, sharing relevant personal experiences, and connecting the lesson content to students’ lives.

“These findings suggest that within the types of course structures we studied, enacting even small acts of discretion that acknowledge the humanity of teachers and students and promote real-world application can improve learning. “We suggested that this could support the improvement of .

For more information:
Jennifer Darling-Aduana et al., Representation is Not Enough: Teacher Identity and Discretion in Asynchronous Scripted Online Learning Environments; Teachers College Record: Voices of Scholarship in Education (2022). DOI: 10.1177/01614681221132384

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